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‘Country Club’ nitro racing or ‘blue collar’ nitro racing? Make mine ‘blue collar,’ thank you very much.
A week doesn’t go by that we don’t get a letter to the editor from some die-hard, pissed-off fans railing against the rules and regulations currently enforced in NHRA nitro racing. The average letter’s content is pretty consistent: 1000-ft. racing isn’t real racing, tickets are too expensive, parking is a rip, track food is ridiculously expensive, there aren’t enough cars, the racing is lame and so forth.
They lament the fact that safety concerns and the resultant rule changes have changed Top Fuel and Funny Car racing from “no rules” classes to what are now arguably the most restricted, rules-laden classes in drag racing. They believe the rules have drained the human quotient out of nitro racing and reduced it to just a battle of the bankbooks.
Actually I agree with some of their complaints with their abhorrence to 1000-foot racing being the exception. According to those in the business, NHRA nitro racing currently requires a budget of $3,000,000 a year to sustain a single car team. NHRA nitro racing is for the most part a business much like F-1 and NASCAR and it is not likely to change anytime soon.
The truth is that NHRA nitro racing teams face the same kind of draconian chassis and engine spec rules that their NASCAR counterparts face. NHRA rules now dictate engine size, nitro percentage, tire brand, wheelbase, max engine rpm, and even many of the engine components themselves are strictly controlled. They have to be because the simple truth is that without all of the regulations the Top Fuel and Funny Cars are simply too fast for the tracks that they race on. But let’s be clear: the rules haven’t made the racing any cheaper or more affordable.
So, as a fan or racer you either take NHRA nitro racing for what it is and enjoy it or seek an alternative.
As a fan you say you want the chance to see nitro cars with 100% nitro in the tank, no rev-limiters, any manufacturer’s tire, almost any engine size or make (Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler), big or small block and a race for a quarter of a mile. My friend, you are talking about “Nostalgia” Top Fuel and Funny Car racing.
There was a time when if someone were to ask me what I thought about watching nostalgia Top Fuel or Funny Cars I’d tell you they were okay just as long as there wasn’t a “real” nitro cars anywhere close. That’s not the case anymore, brother. I’m a convert, a dyed-in-the-wool Nostalgia Nitro junkie and let me give you the reasons why.
First, it is the only nitro drag racing you can watch or participate in where there is a least a chance you can witness what Alan Johnson referred to as “max cackle” -- that would be 97 percent or better nitro in the tank.